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Friday, December 6, 2013

Best of November, 2013

King Moonracer, Rock Star!

As I sit here, still reeling from an epic late night, words are very hard to come by.

Caveman made their way home after a successful European tour and kicked Bowery Ballroom's ass last night.  They billed it as a Christmas show and made the most of all the good tidings.  This space has been on board from the beginning and it appears others are buying in.

Their second (self titled) record is infectious.  Since its release earlier this spring I have listened to it more than any other music- and it ain't even close.  And note, this has been a great year for music.  The National, Vampire Weekend, Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire and a host of others, have released quality albums this year.  Most bloggers and music sources have been posting their "Best of" lists and I have not seen Caveman on any of them.

This is puzzling, understood and generally ok.

It is puzzling because their music (and more specifically their live performance) continues to evolve and shine.  Each show allows the listener another opportunity to find a gem.  My first introduction to them made me an "Old Friend" devotee.  It is a stand out and they absolutely killed it again last night.  Other times I was mesmerized by "My Time" (my vid from last night) or "Where's the Time?"   Last night "Ankles" was an unexpected treat.  Sure I have heard it countless times before.  But the slow build was somehow more effective last night.  Caveman's stage presence,  backed by tirelessly touring the globe, was hard to ignore.  The New York boys had themselves some quality production design too.  And that shit doesn't go unnoticed.  Christmas (NOT HOLIDAY) trees adorned the stage.  A circular projection screen featured various Christmas themes mixed with other scenes- fire, ice, a talking creature not unlike King Moonracer from Rudolph.  Good stuff.

All that pales to the visceral and emotional connection Caveman bring with their songs.  Now, with the added experience of performing two records worth of material, nearly non-stop for 4 years, things have escalated from building blocks to full on skyscraper.

It is easy to understand how they have not made it onto the mainstream dial.  For one thing, that dial can be a little, how you say, slow.  No offense to Lorde or Haim, but those ladies were never really "alt."  Their success has more to do with the mainstream liking a soft song with a hook.  Caveman are never going to find their way in that landscape.  Nor should they.  Their songs, and more importantly their willingness to jam and reach high, high decibels, is for a more sophisticated pallet.   Life can be pretty freaking busy for sophisticated.  It's darn easy to listen to Bruno Mars and Maroon 5 and sit at their concerts.  Believe me I have done it and think it's quite pleasing.

It's harder still to drag your tired ass out on a Thursday and catch a band, at 11pm!  Standing for several hours and following along (for a mind and body like mine) is taxing.  When the payoff is this good though all else is forgotten.   Getting home at 1:30am was never fun when I was younger and able to recover.  Now, forget about it.  A special shout out to my sister and her friend who travel and hour to get to my place.  They probably rolled in around 3 this morning.  And poor sis had a day of hair cuts awaiting her.  I joked with her that every customer ran the risk of exiting her salon looking like Daddy Warbucks.

Fact is,  Caveman are worth that kind of effort.  It makes sense why many folks in my suburban town look at me like I am crazy.  But it also makes sense that they are as crazy for not getting on board.

Adam Levine is great, don't get me wrong.  But you can TiVo that shit.  Each day you read about artists railing against Spotify and Pandora.  The music industry is a convoluted mess.  Maybe our only way out of it is supporting live music and all musicians trying to make it out there.  It's friggin tough.

Thankfully it appears this little Caveman has what it takes.

It's gonna be ok if ya'll don't get it.  There are many that do.  By this time next year there will be even more…  and more…  and more.  Viva La Caveman!

Caveman Band, Bowery Ballroom, 12.5.13

The month that passed had plenty of other hits and artists that caught my attention.  I will not even try to narrow my already bloated "Best of" list.  Take a look at listen to these new additions.

Remember to find me here: GTS or GTS on Twitter

"Pumpin Blood" Nonono

Sweden has long been known as a hotbed for pop and disco.  From Abba to Icona Pop those blonde, blue-eyed kids dig on some funky grooves.  This act follows suit with this catchy, whistle-centric dance number.  Vocalist Stina Wappling and a couple producers make up the band.  Would I want to see them live?  Doubtful.  But this sure is a fun song.

Passenger "Let Her Go"

The story of Brighton, England's Mike Rosenberg, nee Passenger, is a compelling and interesting one.  Should you have the time take a look here.   But if you just want a sweet, well crafted lyric performed with a understated ease just listen to the song.  I am sure this has become the angst ridden teenage girl anthem for 2013 and for good reason.  It has both the ability to make you smile and cry.

Best Coast "I Don't Know How"

LA duo Bethany Consentino (vocals/guitars) and Bobb(not a typo) Bruno (multi instrumentalist) make up Best Coast.  Their latest song is a tale of two tunes.  The first part is a slow bore.  Consentino echoes the refrain over and over in a tedious and grating manner.  When Bruno kick drums his way in the whole dynamic changes in a very positive way.  The sum is greater than the parts, much like the band members themselves.  I mean really, West Coast is Best Coast?  Um, don't think so.

Avett Brothers "Another is Waiting"

North Carolina brother Scott and Seth Avett are critical darlings.  Their homespun and folksy offerings provide a soundtrack for Main St., America.  There are banjoes.  There is wit.  There is cello.  There is harmony.  It is a mix of alt country, pure country, bluegrass, classical and most everything in between.   Their 8th LP, Magpie and The Dandelion, reached #5 on the Billboard chart so these guys are no secret.  This first single (and the sardonic video) are both gleefully addictive.  The Avett's are not for  everyone, as some friends of mine have told me, but in my mind they are as good as anyone making music today.

Sky Ferreira "You're Not the One"

Before researching I was unaware Ms Ferriera is a former model.    And her arrest over the summer (drugs with Diiv frontman and boyfriend Zachary Cole Smith) was not on my radar either.  Nor was her nude album art.  Ok you got me.  I knew way more about this young lady prior to her LP release than most alt ingenues.  But let the record state she is more than just a pretty face (and breasts.)  This single is a glorious throwback to 80s pop with more edge than Miley or Rhianna.  Fun stuff.

Fitz and The Tantrums "Walker"

Earlier this year I caught this LA act on Daryl Hall's excellent show.  It seemed like a perfect fit.  Michael Fitzsimmons has his ear firmly on Motown and 50's and 60s rhythm and blues.  He and his Tantrums bring an up tempo, positive vibe with a nod to pop not unlike the glory days of Hall and Oates.  It's all about good hooks and fun beats.  Oh, and Fitz and his leading lady Noelle, have voices Berry Gordy would approve of.  Note, this is the second track on the list showcasing whistling.  Is a remake of Walk Like an Egyptian next?

Tennis "Mean Streets"

Denver husband and wife act Tennis are important for a few reasons.  One, they have shared the Fat Possum label with aforementioned Caveman.  They released their latest record, Small Sound, through Communion.  On the record we find out why else they are important- they make solid music.  Small is an apt description of their sound when referring to Alaina Moore's hushed vocals.  The overall vibe is far bigger though.  This tune relies on a steady and bone shaking bass line that is hard to ignore.  Tennis anyone?

Kate Nash "Fri-end"

Fiery English songstress Kate Nash comes from a long line of Brit bad girls.  If I cared to research I am sure she has been compared to Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and Adele.  She released her third LP, Girl Talk, earlier this year.  It came and went without much fanfare in these parts.  Our loss.  Take a listen and fall in love with both the song and the artist.  She has staying power- unlike Ms Winehouse for instance.

Haerts "Wings"

There is a lot going on with the English, German and US band called Haerts.  They are still finding their way and recently released their first EP.  They formed just last year so who can predict what happens in the immediate future.  Will an LP come out?  Will they hit some big stages?  Will they even stay together?  Guess you could ask those questions about all the acts on this list.  Enjoy the song and let's all play the waiting game.  So far, so good.

Cut/Copy "Walking the Sky"

The Aussie synth powerhouses new record, Free Your Mind, is another one of those records I find myself listening to over and over.  They will embark on a huge tour early next year that includes a NYC trip I am stoked to be attending.  Their mix of arena pop and synth anthems are stand outs in a World of weak EDM and lesser, but more popular talents of similar sensibilities.  They are the high water mark in the category and this particular song is pure joy.

And for the record, still can't get enough of  "We Exist""Normal Person", and "Afterlife" from Arcade Fire's amazing new record.

and for more info on Caveman they have been written about extensively here.  take a look:

Caveman review 5 on 5 at Ace Hotel

Caveman from CMJ 2011

Caveman debut record release Mercury Lounge 2011

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